We all know that stress in life is a guarantee. Stress is necessary for life and can be a positive motivator. However, when it starts to become too much for our bodies and minds to process, it can start to present in many ways that can be frustrating, overwhelming or downright alarming. Symptoms of too much stress can present itself mentally, physical and emotionally.
Some of the mental effects of too much stress can be subtle at first. Trouble learning new information is often associated with aging but can also be attributed to stress overload. Forgetfulness and difficulty making decisions are other ways that stress can affect your brain (ask any new mom!). Confusion and disorganization are two more signs that your stress levels are beyond a healthy level and that it is time to start seeking stress management solutions.
Most people are more aware of the physical side effects of stress. Headaches, grinding teeth, muscle spasms, neck and back pain just to name a few. Some physical symptoms are less known such as light headedness, dry mouth, hives and tremors. Other physical ways stress can present are heartburn, stomach pain, nausea and difficulty breathing. After ruling out any medical conditions, stress management is critical for reacquiring quality of life.
Emotional effects of stress are often the most disturbing for people. Just a few of the symptoms that people can experience are frequent crying, irritability, increased anger, depression, feeling overloaded and loneliness.
How you will manage stress will be different than every other person, but I will share a few ideas with you to help you get started. Meditation is something you can do anywhere and there are lots of free resources to get you started. Exercise is a great way to release natural endorphins in the body and reduce stress, even something as simple as taking a walk can help. Regular massage therapy can be a way to reduce stress and alleviate the pain associated with it. Other ways to manage stress include yoga, listening to music, reducing your workload, spending time in nature and visiting friends. If you are ever overwhelmed, reach out to your doctor for evaluation or resources.
Keeping hydrated is an important part of staying healthy. Water promotes cardiovascular health, keeps your body cool, helps muscles and joints work better and keeps skin supple. Here is this week’s hydration recipe:
Cantaloupe, Honey, and Mint Water
½ c water
½ c honey
4 c (about 2 lbs) cantaloupe cut into 1 inch pieces
¼ c fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves
¼ tsp salt
sparkling water or club soda
mint sprigs for garnish
Whether it’s responsibilities for work, home, or the community, life has a way of getting incredibly busy. And it’s easy to let our everyday physical and mental health slip during such times. So how do you juggle all of your life commitments and still have time for your own needs? Here are some tips for staying all-around healthy—no matter how busy you are.
Keep an Eye on Portions
One thing that helps you maintain your health is to pay attention to the portions you eat.
Yes, what you eat matters, but so does how much you eat. Americans are eating more now than ever before, and the results are easily seen when you look at the obesity rates. A lot of it has to do with the consumer market, such as the servings at restaurants and packaged food from the grocery store. To help manage your portions, consider purchasing a quality digital food scale. These scales eliminate the guesswork by weighing ingredients and dishes. Measuring cups are another great option for keeping track of serving sizes.
Once you have your digital scale and measuring cups, try meal prepping. Pick an evening each week to plan your meals, make a grocery list, and go shopping. Once you do it a few times, you’ll realize it really doesn’t take up a lot of your time, and it’s worth the time it does take because it gives you complete control of how much you and your family eat.
Make Time for the Basics
It is essential to leave room in your day for personal hygiene. It may sound funny, but many people overlook this step when life gets chaotic. Wake up early enough to give yourself ample time to shower, brush your teeth, fix your hair, sit down and have a healthy breakfast and coffee, and anything else you need to do to prepare for your day. It’s not a pleasant feeling to be in the middle of your 10 AM meeting and realize you didn’t brush your teeth.
Make (and Keep) Appointments
How many appointments have you forgotten about or canceled in the past two years? When life gets overwhelming, it’s easy to neglect important checkups and doctor appointments. But these appointments are how we gauge our current overall health, know what changes to make, and stay out in front of critical diagnoses. For example, make a point to maintain your regular checkups with your primary care physician once a year, and visit the dentist twice a year. Get a full-body screen at the dermatologist, see your OB-GYN, and get your eyes examined each year. And if you are a woman in your 40s or older, make sure to get a mammogram once a year.
Making time for relaxation is essential for our mental health. This is when you wind down from your busy life and allow yourself to do something enjoyable (unrelated to work). Maybe this means saying no to working overtime so you can go on a family camping trip. Maybe it means getting a babysitter so you and your partner can go out for a night on the town. Or perhaps you just need to soak in a hot epsom salt bath and listen to soothing music. Whatever it is, you will only make relaxation happen if you prioritize it.
Life gets crazy, but you can still maintain your health. Remember not to neglect basic personal hygiene. Try a digital food scale, measuring cups, and meal prepping to manage your portions. Don’t forget about or cancel important medical checkups and appointments. And make sure to carve out time in your schedule for relaxing. Taking steps such as these will help you stay healthy and bring consistency to your busy life.
Guest Post by Jennifer McGregor @ publichealthlibrary.org
This technique is an updated version of Gua Sha- a traditional Chinese medicine method of releasing pain (gua= scrape, sha= sand). Weighted, beveled steel tools are used to produce light petechiae (redness caused by capillary hemorrhage) in order to release fascia, restore movement, improve circulation and decrease pain. It is also known as the Graston Technique (named after David Graston who started the IASTM movement).
Benefits of this technique are: *to deliberately create micro-trauma and slight inflammation (petechiae)----eccentric exercises do the same thing, creating micro-tears in the muscle *to facilitate connective tissue healing *to release soft tissue hypertonicity, adhesions, and fascial restrictions *to modulate pain and tone by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system to signal the brain to relax the area of tension or restriction
Who can benefit? *Elite athletes *Weekend Warriors *Sports participants with overuse injuries (including children) *Migraine sufferers *Desk job employees *Anyone with old injuries who have scar tissue *Anyone with new injuries that need to prevent scar tissue abnormalities *Anyone with persistent trigger points (knots) that won't go away.
Ever wonder why hot stones would be beneficial in a massage session? In addition to feeling amazing, there are a few other great benefits to adding in this little luxury.
Need deep work to get rid of trigger points (knots), or to lengthen some shortened muscles (this can happen when you assume one position for extended periods of time such as sitting at a desk all day)? Hot stones help to heat the muscle tissue allowing for deeper work, faster. This can allow your therapist to get to the deeper work quicker and spend more time on the type of work you really need.
Do you have cold hands and feet? Hot stones are great at increasing circulation in the body. The heat quickly brings the blood flow to the surface and is a real treat when you have an area of the body that is chronically cold. This is also great for an older injury because bringing circulation to an area also brings nutrients your body uses to heal the tissue.
Dealing with a lot of stress and need to just tune out? The heat from the stones has a very relaxing, almost sedative effect. Ask for a hot pack for your feet when you come in and get a double hit of heat. There is nothing quite like having toasty warm feet to increase your speed of relaxation.
So, the next time you visit us for a massage, be sure to ask for hot stones. We will include them free in any massage. See you soon!
Willow Bow Massage Therapy
You have tried for months (or years!) to get to this point. You are finally pregnant and are looking forward to the arrival of your new little one. Pregnancy is an exciting time for many. We plan and arrange and get ready in any way we can for this amazing little bundle. Often the process can be stressful, or uncomfortable, or down right painful! Prenatal massage is a great way to help the process go just a little smoother for mom (and baby!).
Your body is changing at a rapid pace as you grow a whole new person. Your blood supply increases drastically and can lead to swelling, nose bleeds, and headaches. Your ligaments loosen contributing to hip, ankle, knee, and even pelvic pain. Your center of gravity changes contributing to back and hip pain. And let’s not even go there with the weight gain! Yikes! If you are like me, you are looking for alternatives to medication when dealing with all the fun side effects of being pregnant. Massage can be a great option during pregnancy and has so many benefits.
During our prenatal massages, once you are uncomfortable lying on your stomach or back (typically between 12-20 weeks), we will have you laying on your side throughout the massage. We use pillows, lots and lots of pillows to make sure you are comfortable and safe throughout your session. In this position, we have great access to your back, hips, and feet (all common problem areas when you are pregnant). We can still reach all areas of your body that you may want worked on, and will typically work the full body in an hour unless you have special requests otherwise.
Pregnancy can be a stressful time, but is also so amazing and full of joy and excitement. Take a few minutes for yourself and schedule a massage. The baby also gets the stress reducing benefits of the massage, and who doesn’t want a calmer, more peaceful infant!
Willow Bow Massage Therapy
I think we all saw the Olympics this year and noticed the distinctive marks left by a cupping session on Michael Phelps. It brought a lot of attention to this ancient technique used in Eastern Medicine for centuries. Since then, we have had many clients ask about this technique, so I thought I would share a few benefits. I would also like to let you know that Tatum offers cupping free of additional charge in any massage session booked with her!
First I would like to clarify that cupping can be done with a few different methods. One uses glass cups and fire. A small burst of flame into the cup creates the suction used for the treatment. This is the method that has been used the longest. Another, newer method involves using a special tool to draw the air out of specially designed cups.
Cups can be placed in one spot on the body and allowed to rest there for a few minutes (which creates the marks), or the suction can be applied and the cups can be moved around during your massage. Leaving the cup in a specific location is great for trigger points or a particularly tight area. Massaging with the cups allows for great deep work which helps to break up adhesions in the skin (think scar tissue), fascia (the membrane surrounding the muscles), and the muscle tissue itself.
Because of the deep work that can be done with the cups, cupping can be beneficial for those dealing with muscle pain, headaches, and tension throughout the body. Cupping can also be great for increasing circulation throughout the body. Toxins can even be pulled through the skin (Not even kidding, ask to see the cups after!).
If you are curious about this treatment and would like to give it a try, be sure to schedule your massage with Tatum and let her know when you arrive for your appointment. They are always ready to go and she can use as few or as many as you would like during your massage session with her.
Willow Bow Massage Therapy
New to Massage? Not sure what to expect at your first massage appointment? First off, let me congratulate you on booking your first appointment. I hope this will be the first of many! It can be a little intimidating when you are not sure what to expect, so here is a short rundown of what will happen at your first appointment.
First, try to be to your appointment 5 to 10 minutes early, we will have a one page (front and back) intake form for you to fill out. We will be asking briefly about your medical history, massage goals, current activities, and of course basic contact information. Once your form is completed, we will go over your form together and determine the best massage for you. Always remember that you are in control of your massage. We can always concentrate on specific areas of concern and the pressure should always be what you are comfortable with.
Once we are done discussing your intake forms and have a plan for the massage, your massage therapist will step out of the room for you to get undressed and on the table. To what level you wish to undress is completely up to you. Generally, the fewer clothes you are wearing, the better the massage therapist can work areas of your body. For women, it is always easier to work your upper back, neck and, shoulders if you have taken your bra off. Many people choose to leave their underwear on, and this is perfectly fine. Even if you need some good hip work, this can be done through the sheet and your underwear.
Getting on the table is easy. Just crawl between the sheets and cover up as best you can. Your therapist will have told you before she left if she wanted you to start face down or face up. The table should be super cozy with a plush topper under the bottom sheet and a warm blanket over the top sheet. We will adjust the pillow under your ankle/knee when we come back in the room and make any adjustments necessary to make you as comfortable as possible. Speak up if there is anything we can do to make you more comfortable! Honestly, it only takes seconds and you will be there for 30 to 90 minutes so if you are too warm/cold or if the music is too loud/soft, we would love to fix it.
Now that you are super comfortable and probably already falling asleep on the table, your massage will begin. Always speak up if the pressure is too much or too little. We want you to enjoy your massage as much as possible, even if enjoyable to you is having to breathe through the intensity of your massage. We will check in on pressure a couple times throughout the massage or if you start to tense up, but feedback anytime is welcome.
People often ask if talking during a massage is okay. Of course, if that is what is you want. We try to take our cues from you. If you want to talk, talk. If you are quiet, we will take your lead and let you quietly enjoy your time. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us anytime.
Willow Bow Massage Therapy